When I got married, my friends and family threw a ton of advice at me. I heard lots of hair-brained ideas, ranging from keeping the boudoir passions alive all the way to making sure that I improve my cooking skills (because apparently, the way to a man’s heart is still through his stomach).
The best advice that I got, though, was from my grandmother. She said, “Honey, forget that ‘never go to bed angry’ foolishness. If you ever get mad then tell him so. A marriage that sits on anger turns sour, and that is why people divorce.”
Turns out my grandmother was right. According to new research, couples who argue together, quite literally stay together.
Joseph Grenny, co-author of the New York Times bestseller Crucial Conversations, told The Guardian, “the biggest mistake that couples make is avoidance.” He added, “We feel something but say nothing. At least until we can’t stand it anymore. So, we wait until we are certain to discuss it poorly before we bring it up.”
Grenny goes on to explain that trust and intimacy actually take root and grow when a couple opens up and communicates honestly with each other — and that includes arguing.
If this is true, then my husband and I have a pretty darn solid chance of making it to eternity. Take the laundry, for example. Since day one, we have never seen eye-to-eye on basic laundry practices. I like my dirty socks IN THE HAMPER while he likes to toss his dirty biohazard foot mittens on the damn floor NEXT TO the hamper.
If ever there were grounds for divorce, I would think this would be it, but since we air our grievances on the regular, this has become the one conversation in our marriage that immediately turns into hilarious jokes. In fact, for Valentine’s Day this year, my husband put all of his dirty clothes in the hamper with a note that read:
“Roses are red, violets are blue, I did the laundry (sort of), now how about we kiss and makeup?”
The study of more than 1,000 adults found that when couples argue, they are 10 times more likely to stay together. Having been married for 13 years, I can tell you this is because each party wants to stick around and make sure the other one knows he or she is right.
Grenny told The Guardian that the three toughest fights that couples slog through are often around money, sex, and annoying habits (clothes on the floor beside hamper).
“The success of a relationship is determined by the way in which sensitive issues are debated,” he told The Guardian. “True love takes work. Real intimacy is not just about love but is also about truth. And crucial conversations are the vehicle for surfacing truth in a way that accelerates a feeling of intimacy, trust, and connection.”
So, thanks for the advice, Grandma. It is good to open up and be honest about your feelings. Let’s just hope that doesn’t happen on Valentine’s Day, though. No one wants a big fight on the most romantic day of the year, amiright?
h/t: The Guardian